Therapeutic Benefits of Massage Therapy for the Elderly
Shawna Klein, RMT, PTS
Registered Massage Therapist
Massage therapy combined with remedial exercise improves function and mobility and helps to prevent limitations caused by the natural effects of aging.
Massage has many benefits including the improvement of general health and wellbeing. Seniors who receive massage often experience improvements in depression, stress, anxiety, vitality, personal wellbeing, and overall health. Seniors often feel disconnected and isolated from the world around them. Increased levels of anxiety are common as they face new physical limitations. The gentle touch of a massage therapist can have an impact on a senior’s emotional state and improve their sense of wellbeing.
Massage encourages stress relief and relaxation. Anxiety and stress can lead to insomnia and general feelings of uneasiness. Massage contributes to the stimulation of a relaxation response in the body which can aid in proper sleep and stress reduction. Stress is often referred to as the “silent killer” and a lack of sleep can also have detrimental effects on the lives of seniors by way of negative moods, decreased cognitive abilities, and ineffective immune system function. Studies have shown that a foot massage for only 10 minutes a day for a 2-week period decreased agitation in Alzheimer’s patients.
An increase in aches and pains often arise as we age, either due to the natural effects of aging or from age related diseases. By focusing on the entire body system and its relationship to the soft tissue, specific techniques used in massage therapy will help to decrease pain and reduce discomfort.
Maintaining health and a strong immune system are encouraged with regular massage treatments. Strengthening the immune system leads to an increase in the body’s natural killer cells, aids in the fight against bacteria and infection, and naturally enhances the body’s ability to get nourishment to important areas. Studies indicate that regular massage can naturally increase the immune system’s cytotoxic capacity - the activity level of the body’s natural “killer cells” and decrease the number of T-cells, which improve the body’s overall immune function.
Seniors often experience postural changes that have occurred gradually over the years. Poor posture leads to a chain of functional and internal deficiencies. It can lead to digestive problems, affect circulation, and breathing capacity. Poor posture can also lead to a lack of balance since the body is not in proper alignment. Addressing postural deficiencies through massage therapy and remedial exercise will help to reverse the effects of poor posture. Studies have shown that joint play on the ankle and foot improves balance.
Contact your massage therapist today and find out how massage can benefit you personally and provide you with all the benefits of improving and maintaining your overall health.
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